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HOWARD v. CAMPBELL SOUP CO.

September 30, 1983

KAY HOWARD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAMPBELL SOUP CO., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Getzendanner, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This employment discrimination case under 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) ("Equal Pay Act") and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2 ("Title VII") is before the court on a motion for reconsideration of an order denying the motion for partial summary judgment of defendant Campbell Soup Company ("Campbell"). The previously denied motion for partial summary judgment presented evidence on the jobs to which plaintiff Kay Howard is comparing her job in claiming salary discrimination ("comparison jobs"). In that motion, Campbell argued that the evidence showed the comparison jobs to be so dissimilar to Howard's job as to defeat her claim of salary discrimination under Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. Judge Leighton, who heard the motion, denied it on February 11, 1983, explaining that the written job descriptions provided by Campbell were inadequate to determine the comparability of management level jobs. He held that the determination of comparability could be better performed with the help of expert testimony, cross-examination, and other trial aids.

In this motion for partial summary judgment, Campbell claims to have discovered that at trial, Howard will compare her job only with the eight comparison jobs at issue in Campbell's previous motion for partial summary judgment. Therefore, Campbell explains, no evidence that is not now before the court will be presented at trial, rendering partial summary judgment appropriate at this stage. The "undisputed facts" in the affidavits and depositions now possessed by the court, Campbell argues, demonstrate that Howard's job and the comparison jobs are so unequal as to show clearly that Title VII and the Equal Pay Act have not been violated. Campbell also argues that an "absence of any claim of sex segregation in Defendant's classification of jobs establish that Defendant has not violated Title VII under any of the valid standards applicable to a Title VII salary discrimination claim." Defendant's Motion to Reconsider p. 4.*fn1

The facts concerning the content of Howard's job are not, however, undisputed. The court will therefore accept, for purposes of this motion, Howard's broader version of her employment duties. According to that version, Howard has occupied the job of Supervisor, Employee Benefits and Cafeteria, from March 1976*fn2 to the present. This position is classified as grade 18 (grade level determining the salary range of the job).

Howard describes the salary discrimination claims at issue here in her memorandum in opposition to the motion to reconsider:

  1. The salary that Howard received for the actual jobs she
     performed was discriminatorily set lower than it would have
     been for a male.
  2. The grade level for the job that Howard actually
     performed was discriminatorily set lower than it would have
     been for a male.

See Plaintiff's Memo in Opposition to Motion to Reconsider pp. 3-4.

Campbell repeatedly interprets Howard's salary discrimination claims as alleging that the salary grade system itself is discriminatory. Howard's explanation of her action clearly shows that she is claiming the actual job she performed, including the extra duties assigned her because of her sex, received a lower salary and salary grade than other males performing those duties would have or are receiving. In other words, her formal job description may indeed merit its current salary and grade level, but the job content makes it equal to other managerial jobs filled by males and mandating higher pay. It is Howard's actual job, and not her formal job description, for which she claims receiving a discriminatorily low salary and salary grade.*fn3

The Howard and comparison jobs are management positions. Campbell, in its motion to reconsider, has referred to numerous affidavits by company personnel describing the comparison jobs and comparing them with Howard's. Campbell concludes that with respect to Howard's job, the comparison jobs each entail greater skill, responsibility, and effort, and are performed under different working conditions. 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1).

Howard's and Campbell's evidence on the duties of Supervisor, Employee Benefits and Cafeteria, conflict. The court cannot resolve this factual dispute but will accept for purposes of this motion the broader description provided by Howard. If Howard's explanation of her actual duties reveals that they require different working conditions, skill, effort, or responsibility, then Campbell's motion for partial summary judgment must be granted. If Howard's job, as detailed in her disputed evidence, may by law be "substantially equal" to the comparison jobs, partial summary judgment must be denied.

Under the Equal Pay Act, the plaintiff must compare her salary with the salary obtained by a male in a job "substantially equal" to her own. Shultz v. Wheaton Glass Co., 421 F.2d 259 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 398 U.S. 905, 90 S.Ct. 1696, 26 L.Ed.2d 64 (1970). See also Brennan v. Prince William Hospital Corp., 503 F.2d 282, 285 (4th Cir. 1974) ("significant variations in skill, effort and responsibility" render jobs unequal). Whether two jobs entail equal work must be decided on a case-by-case basis. Hodgson v. Golden Isles Convalescent Homes, Inc., 468 F.2d 1256, 1258 (5th Cir. 1972) (per curiam). In making this decision, the court must evaluate each job as a whole, taking into account the Equal Pay Act's broad remedial purpose. EEOC v. Universal Underwriters Insurance Co., 653 F.2d 1243, 1245 (8th Cir. 1981). E.g., Thompson v. Sawyer, 678 F.2d 257, 272-274 & n. 13 (D.C.Cir. 1982) (discussing Equal Pay Act cases concerning males and females doing similar work but using different machines); Ridgway v. United Hospitals-Miller Division, 563 F.2d 923, 926 (8th Cir. 1977) (district court found urology assistant and ophthalmology technician, both entailing "surgical assistance," to be equal for Equal Pay Act purposes).

To demonstrate that her job is substantially equal to the higher paid job, a plaintiff must show that her lower paid job actually entailed equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and similar working conditions. Inequalities in any one of these areas render the ...


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